When you start a service business it is very stressful to struggle to find work. Going days or weeks between jobs can create a range of emotions from panic to depression. When a customer finally calls, in our eagerness to book work we may actually put the would-be customer off by sounding and acting desperate.
My contracting business is booked 2 – months in advance with the exception of during our one seasonally slow time where we drop down to being booked only 1 – 2 weeks in advance. We have 6 trucks so when I say we are booked I mean every truck is booked 2 – months in advance.
The best part about this is that our system can be replicated. Here is how we do it.
Step 1 – Set Your Business Up in the Right Marketplace
Our contracting business (www.purepressure.ca) is located in Vancouver, BC Canada, we offer Exterior Building Cleaning services to residential and commercial customers. The services we offer are sought after by nearly every property owner in the Greater Vancouver area, a population of over 2 million people. We offer three services that our customers need every year, one in spring, one in summer and one in fall/winter. We have lots of competition but lots of potential customers. If you are in a marketplace without enough potential customers this system will not work.
Step 2 – Develop an Online Lead Generation System
The foundation of our lead generation system is our website. We find new customers through organic search results and paid online advertising. The secret for us is building a website and online ads that are optimized for slightly less competitive key words then what your competitors focus on. So if you are a plumber who lives in a large city you would optimize your website for the surrounding suburbs instead of the city you live in and keywords related to plumbing but not actually the word plumber.
Step 3 – What Is Truly Important to Your Perfect Customer
Once people visit your website you must communicate what they want to see and hear. Our contracting business involves working on ladders and the customer’s roof, so we focus on safety. Of course, we provide information about our services but always through the lens of safety. We emphasize our fall protection plan, compliance with safety regulations and insurance that protects the customer. This is more important to the customer then learning about the fancy tools we use to clean gutters for example. They don’t really care what special tools you use, they just want the job done safely so they don’t have to deal with a lawsuit if someone gets hurt. What is the one thing your customers are concerned with? Focus your marketing on that.
Step 4 – Do One Thing Better Than 80% of Your Competition
Once your site does its job and makes people want to get a proposal, make it easy for them to take action. Proposals (estimates) are typically the area that you can become a leader in your industry. In our industry, our competitors are often independent contractors with maybe one or two helpers. They are responsible for doing almost everything themselves in their business. Usually, their wives will do invoicing and accounts payable/receivable but are too nervous to do proposals because they don’t know the business well enough. So your competitors are working all day and trying to get everything else done in the evening. Our competitors were taking up to 72 hours to get proposals back to customers. We made a commitment to our customers that we would do all proposals in 24 hours. This made us better than 80% of our competitors and immediately influenced revenue to grow.
Step 5 – Find a Better Fit for Customers That Don’t Work for You
Your business has a personality that is a reflection of you and your employee’s personality, your customer has a personality. Not all personalities work well together. When I came across a customer that was not a good fit for our business I would recommend that they use a specific competitor. Give customers to your competitors, this sounds like a bad idea! Think about it, though, this customer that is causing all kinds of grief in your business may get along with your competitor famously and leave you to pursue customers that are a better fit and your competitor will love you. Your competitor will be less likely to try to hurt your business because he will view you as a friend. If this customer is not a good fit for your competitor, the customer will now be causing all kinds of grief to your competitors business leaving you free to pursue customers that are a better fit and your competitor will still think you’re great because you are referring their business. It is a win-win scenario for you either way.
Step 6 – When Customers Compliment You, Take Note and Do More of That
Wow, I really appreciate how your employees did…
Whatever two or three customers like, all your customers will like. Take specific note and change your marketing to talk about those things. When you are meeting with a potential customer talk about those things over and over again. Of course, if two or three customers complain consistently about something you have to eliminate those things immediately as well.
Step 7 – Remarket to Your Existing Customers
Over time you will build up a list of customers, remarket to them carefully using an email service like Mail Chimp. Too many emails and you will drive them away, too few and you miss out on a secret to success. We found that twice a year is the perfect number for us. We time the emails to match what is going on in our customer’s lives. The email arrives and the customer feels relief, many times customers said to us “I was just thinking about calling you and your email arrived, thank you for thinking about me.”
If you follow these 7 steps and your business is positioned in the right market you will be able to book yourself weeks or even months in advance. As a reward for reading this entire article, I would like to offer you one more tip:
Bonus Tip – Understanding Psychology
When you don’t have work and a customer finally calls and asks when you are available, NEVER schedule them that day or the day after. The soonest I would ever schedule a customer, even when I had zero work was 2 days from the day they called. Why? It really comes down to psychology, by not acting desperate when the customer calls they unconsciously think “these guys are good, other people have booked them.” Now when you have implemented the 7 steps of our system and you are booking weeks, even months in advance and a customer complains it is important that you say something like this to them “I’m sorry that we can’t get to you any sooner, anyone in our industry that is good is booking this far in advance this time of year. If you find someone that doesn’t have any work booked this time of year, well there is probably a reason for that” (chuckle as you say this last part so you don’t sound like a jerk). This has a powerful effect on the customer, some will still go find someone else but most just schedule you.
Thank you for reading my blog, please like, share, and leave a comment. Your support is appreciated and I would love to hear suggestions on topics you would like to read about.